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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  February 1, 2019 12:00am-1:00am PST

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this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. major developments tonight in the russia investigation. so we're devoting this entire hour to an in-depth look at all things russia. first we have our breaking news for you. the president telling "the new york times" he never spoke with roger stone about wikileaks. according to mueller's indictment a senior trump campaign official was directed to contact stone about what wikileaks had on hillary clinton. but maggie haberman of "the new york times" tells me the president insisted the direction did not come from him. we're also learning that mueller's team has seized what they call voluminous and complex evidence from roger stone. this includes several years' worth of information collected from stone's icloud accounts, e-mail accounts and hard drives. also tonight, cnn has exclusive reporting that donald trump, jr.'s three mysterious phone calls before and after the now infamous 2016 trump tower
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meeting were not with his father. this is according to new information obtained by senate investigators showing the blocked calls were between don junior and two of his business associates. president trump seizing on the news tonight tweeting, "just out, the big deal very mysterious don junior telephone calls after the innocent trump tower meeting that the media and dems said were made to his father, me, were just conclusively found not to be made to me. they were made to friends and business associates of don. really sad." didn't credit us with the reporting because that's where it came from exclusively, from cnn. but it's clearly a positive development for the trump family. but let's not forget that trump jr. did meet with russians about getting dirt on hillary clinton. let's discuss now all of this. shimon prokupecz, susan glasser, phil mudd and harry litman. good evening to all of you. i just think it's ironic that
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he's saying the media is claiming all this stuff and it was us who report td and we're saying it's good news for don jr. anyway, i digress. susan, i spoke with maggie haberman, and along with someone you might know, peter baker, just interviewed president trump in the last hour. take a listen to this. >> he was emphatic he did not speak with roger stone about wikileaks. he was emphatic he did not direct anyone on the campaign to go speak to roger stone about what wikileaks might have. and this is important because there is a vague line in the indictment against roger stone that says he was directed sometime after july 22nd, 2016, that somebody on -- a senior campaign official was directed to get in touch with stone. we don't know who that senior official is or who directed that person, but the president definitively said it was not him tonight. >> susan, maggie says he was
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emphatic trump never directed anyone to contact roger stone on wh wikileaks on hillary clinton. are you buying it? >> well, let's just say that all of these reports tonight are exactly the reason why there is an investigation by the special counsel robert mueller's office and why it's very hard to incrementally-w blindfolds around our eyes try to find an unfolding complicated federal investigation. you know, these are little bits and pieces of data. i felt all along like we're, you know, patting parts of the elephant without knowing exactly what is the animal that we're dealing with here. i think it's noteworthy that president trump made those deep statements to peter and maggie, and we'll see if there's any evidence contradicting it. the stone indictment as maggie pointed out, is filled with these sort of tantalizing passive voice statements that suggest that there might be a lot to learn from this apparently voluminous information and evidence that's been seized by mueller's office
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in the course of the stone arrest. >> so harry, you know, trump also told "the times" that rod rosenstein told his attorneys he's neither a subject nor a target in mueller's investigation. meaning he told trump's attorneys that. when asked about a separate investigation by federal prosecutors in new york, he said "i don't know about that." what does that say to you? >> well, i think it says he's pretty scared of the southern district of new york, with good reason. chris christie among others has said he really has to be most concerned there. and a couple of things about the southern district of new york. one, they're very well known as being aggressive prosecutors pushing the envelope, going where the evidence leads them is one. and two, their field of investigation is the years before trump was candidate when the wild and whooly years and they have the cooperation of the cfo of the organization.
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so whatever crimes he might have committed when he didn't think he would be a presidential candidate are in their sights, and that's good reason to frighten him. >> mr. mudd, "the washington post" reported in april, though, of 2018 that in private negotiations in early march about a possible presidential interview that mueller described trump as a subject of his investigation. so what do you believe? >> look, you look at what the president has said about stormy daniels. i go back to that because that was one of the clearest indications i take. i look into the southern district investigations that when he's speaking about investigations you can't take what he's saying as fact. i look at everything that's going on, and let me pick up on what you just discussed a moment ago. we talk too much about mueller. if you're looking at this from the outside and you're looking at whether the president is a subject or not, i would be looking at the southern district investigations, that is, the new
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york investigations, because those are long-standing questions about whether there was dirty money. forget about russia. what have a lot of these people pled guilty to? look at manafort. that's dirty money. look at cohen, that's dirty money. so i look at this and say whether the president t's talki about mueller or not put that aside. what does he say about the southern district, you already reported that. he doesn't say too much because i suspect he's worried, don. >> shimon, we're also learning that the mysterious calls don junior made ahead of the trump tower meeting were not to president trump. how significant is this development? >> certainly significant for donald trump jr. there have been a lot of questions about whether or not he spoke to his father before the meetings and whether or not just a couple of hours after on january 9th, after that meeting wrapped up, there were these blocked calls and members of congress had asked him questions about it when they interviewed him. they did not know who these calls were from. there was a lot of assumption made and a lot of people suspected maybe he was calling his father and briefing him on what had occurred at this meeting.
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that now turns out not to be the case obviously from our reporting. he simply according to people we've talked was talking to business associates of his. where does this all go now? it doesn't mean he never spoke to his father about this meeting. this does not make it in any way definitive. but it's a data point here that certainly members of congress have been interested in. and it points to the signs that he did not at least in these phone calls call his father. >> susan, the president told his son, tweeted tonight, "has anybody heard from adam schiff? i imagine he's busy leaking other confidential information from the house intelligence committee to change the subject. full of schiff." so clearly don jr.'s feeling good about this news. should he be feeling good about it? >> look, i think the reason he's focusing in on congressman schiff is because schiff among other democrats was raising questions about the republicans on capitol hill refusing to pursue this lead last year in their investigation and refusing
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to find out just who made the phone calls. that's the reason he's targeting congressman schiff. again, i think shimon's point is well taken here. it doesn't definitively rule out president trump was informed about the results of the meeting, possibly even in person. the trump tower meeting after all took place in trump tower where his father not only had an office but i believe has been reported that he was present on that day. so again, we don't know exactly what president trump knew and when he knew it about the trump tower meeting. but this is something that, you know, donald trump jr. is tweaking democrats about. but i would say where did the information come? almost certainly from a leak from republicans on capitol hill would strike me as an obvious source for this information today given that it appears to, you know, be good news and positive information for donald trump jr. and, you know, the weaponizing of little data points of information i think is going to
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continue until we have more definitive public reporting from the various entities that are investigating president trump. >> susan, that makes too much sense. what you just said, i'm like wait a minute, does she know who she's dealing with here? that makes way too much sense. harry, let's remember, though. don jr.'s e-mail that russia had information that would incriminate hillary clinton and he responded quickly, "if it's what you say i love it, especially later in the summer." that was june 3rd. 2016. so there are still major questions about his role in all of this and what kind of trouble he could be in. >> totally. especially since we now know, as we didn't before, that the negotiations for the moscow trump tower were continuing. you know, one of the two calls he placed to a business associate were the real estate developer of the family. the whole focus now has been whether he and the trump family have been conflating foreign
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policy and their own commercial interests. so he's certainly not out of the woods there. i agree that it's far from definitive that he didn't tell his dad, even though it wasn't in these phone calls. and finally, he looks to be very much at risk, maybe even dead to rights about the statements he previously made to congress. so that seems to be almost low-hanging fruit for mueller if and when. i think it's more a question of when he wants to pick it. >> phil, just because those calls weren't to his father, that doesn't mean don jr. didn't tell the president some other way, correct? >> sure. but let me give you an eye roll on this one, don, at 11:11 p.m. on the east coast. we are two-plus years into an investigation using the best resources in the department of justice and the fbi. the question is not simply malfeasance on the financial side. the question is whether there was a conspiracy like we've
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never seen with the russians. and the democrats are hanging their hat on a couple of unidentified phone calls a few years ago? are you kidding me? i mean, i think it's appropriate to -- >> whoa, whoa. >> just a second. >> don, can i respond after? >> of course. that was phil. go on, harry. >> look, we don't know what mueller knows. that's the whole point. it's true that as soon as the republican members of the senate found out this good piece of information it was immediately leaked, but the whole point is and rule number one is don't assume anything about what mueller knows in this charge until he's done it. no way in saying it's been two years because it's up to mueller when he plays his cards. >> just a quick -- i think that's correct. my point would be i don't think adam schiff knows either. if i were a democrat i'd say my get out of jail free card is robert mueller. if he comes forward with more aggressive charges you don't have to be a democrat. you can be an american to say if mueller says it's true i think it's true and therefore the democrats can attack.
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if i were them i'd just hold fire. this is not the time to say this is our solution, a couple of unanswered questions about phone calls a few years ago. >> speaking of holding fire, shimon and susan are sitting by, i'll let those two fight it out. stick around, everybody. the justice department has a whole lot of information from roger stone's i cloud account, his e-mail, computer hard drives. but what has robert mueller learned from all of this? we'll get into that next. with audible you get more. two audible originals: exclusive titles you can't find anywhere else. plus a credit good for any audiobook and exclusive fitness and wellness programs. all for just $14.95 a month, and always ad free. the most inspiring minds, the most compelling stories, the best place to listen. download audible and start your free trial today. they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use stamps.com
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new details tonight about the volume of evidence federal prosecutors have collected against roger stone. it spans several years. comes from stone's e-mail, icloud accounts, and hard drives.
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back now with shimon prokupecz, susan glasser, phil mudd, and harry litman. harry, the special counsel describes the evidence they have from roger stone as voluminous and complex. should the president be worried? >> i think so. terabytes, that's really a lot and often consistent with the extra amount of data in actually decoding the information that stone might have thought he'd kept from it government's eyes. probably not. it's likely they already had in his own words the proof of his having lied. moreover, the designation as complex, with which both stone and the government agreed to, means we're going on for a while. unless stone caves and decides to cooperate, which has got to be a distinct possibility, we're looking, because it's a complex case, at trial in the fall. >> we saw, shimon, how russians could use information that they send to lawyers, right? and leak it. >> that's right. >> so then how is the mueller team trying to prevent leaks from all of this and particular information? >> well, they're asking for a protective order. same thing they've done in other instances in this investigation. they essentially want to protect
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the information so that roger stone or his team can't leak out the information or can't give it to anyone that shouldn't have it. and this way they're mostly always concerned about information getting out about aspects of this investigation. look, i think he makes a good point. one of the things i found very interesting in some of the information they got from roger stone were financial records, bank records. it's the first time we're hearing that the fbi or that the prosecutors were looking through that. we don't know why, and that could still be ongoing. and so there's a lot of information that they have, and they need to protect it because it seems there are parts of this investigation that are still ongoing. >> and they're asking for more time because there's so much information. >> that's right. >> phil, we're talking about roger stone's cell phones, computer, his e-mail, financial records. does that tell you anything about where mueller is heading? >> no, i'd just like to give you a different perspective. you would do this in any case. i want to know if i'm
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investigating don lemon, i want to know your pattern of life. who you talked to, when you talked to them, whether there are financial transactions. put roger stone in context. think of all of the dozens of people in this investigation including people in the campaign, in the white house. i want to know from texts, from e-mails, from financial transactions, who talked to whom. i want to put all those 20 people on sort of a time line and i want to take stone's data and bounce it against all the other data i've acquired over 2 1/2 years. in modern life if you want tyke all that stuff, text, phone, financial data, that's going to take a long time, don. >> susan, so could all of this evidence mean more charges for either stone or others who haven't been charged yet? >> well, i keep coming back to the fact that the indictment was written to really not show mueller's hand when it came to a lot of this evidence that they had already acquired. and so does that mean because they're holding out the possibility of further charges, some of the language around who
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his contacts were in the campaign, what was the nature of it, very unclear. and also importantly enough, is this fundamentally a case about collusion or not? the implication is yes, roger stone was the cue conduit between the trump campaign and wikileaks. but there's so much left to the imagination there it's not clear at all from this indictment. so i think this is something that's going to be the subject of either the ongoing investigation or until they get into court we're not going to know the answer. did he know the russians were involved in the hacking or giving the information to wikileaks? how much was he providing information from the campaign to wikileaks? again, that's completely left out of the indictment. it's not clear at all. >> so harry, listen, this is more of trump's interview with "the new york times," okay? he said "i've always liked -- i liked roger stone, he's a character, mr. trump said. insisting that the fbi agents
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charging a house like they did at 6:00 in the morning, i think that was a very sad thing for this country." do you see anything wrong with what the fbi did? >> i mean, the short answer is no. look, it's true that's a lot of firepower. 29 agents down there. and maybe they could think about it as a policy matter. but what trump alleges is that it's unusual and the suggestion that it was somehow overkill or uncharacteristic because it's a friend of don's. wrong, wrong, wrong again. any defendant arrested with a search warrant application on these charges would be treated exactly the same way to safeguard the evidence. zero credibility to the notion that anything unusual or overbearing was done here in terms of normal -- >> phil, two law enforcement people tell me last night tell me they had to because they had to execute warrants, searches.
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there's a very good explanation why they had so many people and they conducted themselves the way they did. what do you think? >> look, they're going in early in the morning because they don't want him to prepare. they don't want to go in midday because they don't want people say there's a bunch of guys coming down the road, get ready. they want a bunch of guys because if you have two people searching a house and you have a big house -- >> with that much firepower, and they said that's because there were people in the community who were going to surround the house and not let them get -- >> i think that's a fair question. you can say do they need to bring long arms, that is, a rifle, instead of handguns? but in terms of the right question to ask, it's not whether roger stone had an aggressive group of people around the house. it's how does this differ from other people surrounding a house for a raid from the fbi? i don't think it's that different. by the way, the guite spent the ent tire day in front of the nutz cameras. clearly he was traumatized. >> and, you know, he didn't say -- did he say how nice the fbi was? i thought he said the fbi --
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>> yes. >> he did. so this is my thing. for roger stone. right from? he made it out. he's fine. is this where we're going to draw the line if you think it's excessive force, with someone like roger stone who has every means, who's a conspiracy theorist? is this where you're going to have the conversation around how law enforcement conducts himself when we've been having conversations about people who don't have the means. >> therefore, i'd flip the question that people like senator graham are asking. my question would be why do you focus on roger stone? isn't your question was he treated like every other american citizen? why don't you care about them if you care about him? >> that's my point. thank you all. >> i was going to make a point but -- >> go ahead. >> i was going to say roger
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stone in our conversations with him certainly leading up to this had always expected the fbi was going to call him and say turn yourself in. he did not expect them to come this way. we've seen this with paul manafort. we've seen it with other people. michael flynn when he was charged and arrested he spent just a few hours at the fbi's office and then -- >> but shimon, who does? who expects it? the thing phil is saying is this is what the fbi -- this is what they do. and so why are you complaining about roger stone? and there are other examples of people who -- >> and we know the reason why the president does it. it's to really diskrt entidiscr entire investigation. >> yeah, of course. >> he did it with michael cohen when they went to his house. he did it with paul manafort. >> by the way, michael cohen had a number of different people as well. they had to go two different places. he said they couldn't have been more professional and courteous, so there you go. the president says his intel chiefs were misquoted when they contradicted him on topics like iran, like north korea, and isis and russia just to name a few. but how could they be misquoted in their own public testimony?
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...well almost anything. leave no room behind with xfi pods. simple. easy. awesome. click or visit a retail store today. the president in his interview with "the new york times" doubling down on his claims that testimony of his intel chiefs was in his word, mischaracterized. quote, they said, sir, our testimony was mischaracterized, president trump said. i said what are you talking about. and when you read their testimony and their statements it was mischaracterized by the media. let's talk about that. good evening. intel chiefs, steve, were under oath. the hearing was all on camera. now the president says their testimony was mischaracterized by the media. gaslighting?
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>> you think? i mean, this is a good news/bad news story, don. let's start with the bad news. the president of the united states is acting like a two-bit dictator in a banana republic. i've seen this having served 30 years overseas. i've been in places like that where the president gets embarrassed or in a bad position and basically he throws his intelligence services or his police force or his secret police under the bus. and that's what donald trump has tried to do here, he's tried to basically make up this story. but there's good news here too. the good news is that the system is working. the sifystem is pushing back. it's not often, in fact, usually only once a year, that the public, that the press, that citizens get to hear directly from the intelligence leadership in this country. and that happens when the threat assessment presentation goes down. there's also a written version of it. when you hear it straight from their mouths like we did, when you see them looking into the camera and saying things, when you read the report, then you understand what facts are being
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presented and what assessment is being presented. so it's insulting for the president to do that to his intelligence leadership, to say yeah, i brought them all in and they all said it wasn't true. it's also insulting to common citizens like you and me, that insults the intelligence to think we can't figure out and see what these people are saying. on balance i'm pleased with the good news. >> juliette, here's what sources are telling cnn. that aides were able to kaumt president down by saying the full transcripts have more context to what haspel and coats said. but do you buy that haspel and coats -- i think they were pretty clear in their assessments of threats to the u.s. >> yeah, i think we saw the president get played by two different groups today. first of all, his staff who convinced him knowing that he does not read, knowing that he did not read the full report of their testimony, knowing that he likely didn't even read the intelligence assessment and said don't worry about it, the press got it wrong. and then of course the intelligence leaders who played the president by, at least according to his words, trying to calm him down from the ledge.
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and so, you know, if you think that his friends can play him this easily, imagine what his enemies like the russians are able to do. i may be on the more bad side than steve. i mean, look, there are lies that are delusional like the size of the inauguration. and there are lies that are desperate, like the trump people never met with russians. and there's lies that are dangerous. and i think -- i think the president's failure and inability to actually absorb real intelligence as compared to what either putin or fox news are giving him is exceptionally dangerous for the men and women who are, you know, doing jobs that you and i can only imagine, i suspect that steve actually did do. >> when i read it i said they're just saying oh, they totally took us out of context, mr. president and he just fell for it. so there you go. juliette, another question. for the record i just want to
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play some of what dni coats said at his testimony on tuesday on russia. watch this. >> russia's approach relies on misdirection and obfuscation as it seeks to diminish and destabilize our standing in the world. we expect russia will continue to wage its disinformation war against democracies and to use social media to attempt to divide our societies. >> doesn't like he's on the same page as the president. >> no, not at all. and the truth is that the intelligence community has been saying this from 2016, during the transition to when trump was coming in, when you had the full intelligence assessment of the russian's impact throughout the last two years from everyone from fbi director wray to of course coats, the head of the dni, this has been an ongoing threat. so if donald trump sort of processed the intelligence briefings he gots he would never have seen -- he would never have been surprised what coats is saying.
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and you and i and steve and others who read "the new york times" certainly wouldn't have been surprised by that. i have found that dni coats is probably one of the most interesting and least understood characters in this trump, you know, apparatus. he has consistently sort of stuck to what he believes is the right thing to say. and i have to believe he does that to support the agents who are out in the field and let them know there's at least one person who believes two and two still equals four in this administration. >> that's a good assessment. steve, to that effect that dan coats said not only are the russians likely to meddle in the 2020 elections but try to new tactics, how important is it for the u.s. president to be on the same page as the intelligence? >> that we even ask that question is ludicrous. and i sincerely take juliet's point i was certainly looking for a glass half full type of situation. when you have a president that stands up and makes this vacuous
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comment, yes, we all got together and it turns out they told me the press got this all wrong. especially on the onslaught that we continue to see from the russians, you know, going after our democracy, attacking our democracy. and if i could, don, i'd like to do a small public service announcement for the american people. which is look, next time you see something online that really makes you mad and you realize hold on a second, this is a very divisive issue, double-check and make sure you know who that's coming from and you know who you're going to strike back at because the russians are trying to identify these tension spots, these chasms in our society, and they're trying to widen them, they're trying to get us to go against each other. and playing into that is a mistake. the fact the president doesn't see this and says no that's not possible, doesn't mean we as citizens can't figure it out and say look, we're under attack, i don't care if you're a republican or democrat. all of us are under attack by the russians. and there's stuff we can do to get smart and make sure they're not successful. even if the president can't figure it out.
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>> both of you, i want you to stay with me. north korean officials are in moscow this week. are vladimir putin and kim jong-un teaming up? unpredictable crohn's symptoms following you? for adults with moderately to severely active crohn's disease, stelara® works differently. studies showed relief and remission, with dosing every 8 weeks. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and may increase your risk of infections and cancer. some serious infections require hospitalization. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you have an infection or flu-like symptoms or sores, have had cancer, or develop new skin growths, or if anyone in your house needs or recently had a vaccine. alert your doctor of new or worsening problems, including headaches, seizures, confusion and vision problems. these may be signs of a rare, potentially fatal brain condition. some serious allergic reactions and lung inflammation can occur. talk to your doctor today,
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president trump has been very honest about wanting to get along with dictators. take a look at what he said about vladimir putin. >> wouldn't it be nice if we actually got along, as an example, with russia? i'm all for it. >> if he says great things about me i'm going to say great things about hill. i've already said he is very much of a leader. >> donald trump is a friend of putin. well, actually, putin did call me a genius and he said i'm the future of the republican party. >> well, trump has been also especially descriptive about his
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relationship with kim jong-un. >> and then we fell in love, okay? no, really. he wrote me beautiful letters. and they're great letters. we fell in love. >> but now there are some new indications that two of america's most dangerous adversaries, vladimir putin and kim jong-un, could be teaming up without president trump. russian officials say that north korean representatives have been in moscow this week, and that they've been discussing denuclearization on the korean peninsula. remember president trump held a summit last year with north korea's leader to strike a deal for the rogue nation to give up its nukes. the result was a vaguely worded pledge to work towards denuclearization. but trump tweeted after the meeting that north korea was no longer a nuclear threat. but trump took a step back from that claim this week, tweeting this, that there was now a decent chance of denuclearization on the korean peninsula. so could that decent chance now
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depend on an american adversary? there are some signs the russian president wants to own his -- wants his own deal, i should say, with north korea. "the washington post" is reporting that putin's government made a secret offer to north korea this past fall. the offer -- russia would build a nuclear power plant for north korea in exchange for them dismantling their nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. a top russian diplomat denies any offer was made, but experts wouldn't put it past the former kgb agent in the kremlin. sources telling cnn that a summit with president trump and kim jong un is planned for vietnam next month. until then, there isn't much of a deal between the u.s. and north korea. and based on that new reporting, it makes you wonder is putin working to cut a deal with kim first? let's discuss now. juliette kayyem, steve hall, both back with me. juliette, what do you think? could kim and putin be teaming up to ruffle some trump
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feathers? >> yeah. i mean, this is so embarrassing, you know, that we -- the president of the united states stands with both these men but in particular the leader of north korea, says nothing about human rights abuses or the kind of country it is and basically just wants to be loved. and then doesn't get what he wants, which president trump admitted this week, did not get what he wanted. and then putin sweeps in to try and get some sort of sweet deal both for russia but to also obviously make donald trump look bad. if you ask what's the incentive here, and i think it's important to note also that in the intelligence assessment, something that got lost in all the drama about, you know, whether trump was mad at the heads of the intelligence agencies, they spent a lot of time talking about the relationship or the growing relationship between china and russia. and that should be a particular concern because we -- though donald trump talks about america
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first, right? and we're only going to think about ourselves, the rest of the world could care less. they're calibrated in all sorts of ways. and i think it's important when you look at putin's influence and interest in asia, that that is something that we're sort of like irrelevant to this huge sort of change in sort of the global balance. and in the end we look absolutely ridiculous at this stage given what trump offered, gave and begged of north korea. >> steve, do you think putin is capable of making a secret deal with kim to denuclearize? what's in it for him? >> oh, yeah, putin's definitely -- he's a good dictator. and he's sort of almost the ambassador to the rogue states. and speaking of rogue states, the most confused guy on the planet must be maduro down in venezuela. he's like, hey, i'm a dictator what am i, chopped liver? how come i don't get the love? and we don't know why trump hasn't paid the sort of
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attention he typically pays to other dictators. yeah, there's no doubt putin sees -- there's a lot of geopolitics here, and putin sees there's an opportunity to make some hay for russia, in other words, cut a deal with the north koreans. and that is good because he sees everything in a zero-sum game. it's good for russia which means it's going to be bad for the united states because we're not in the driver's seat trying to run and make sure that agreement on the korean peninsula happens. it's also good for russia because china always gets very nervous when russia starts talking about things on the korean peninsula. china kind of sees it as their sphere of influence. so this is great for putin because it's very disruptive. the chinese and the russians sort of have a love-hate relationship because they have a lot of stuff in common right now. but they also have a lot of things that divide them historically and that are going to be problems for them in the future. again, this is win-win for putin.
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he gets a lot of things out of this. he makes the united states look bad and makes china nervous. that's, again, a good thing if you're looking at it from putin's point of view. >> thank you both. i appreciate your time. the nra, which broke spending records backing then candidate trump, facing new questions over previously undisclosed ties to russia. what were high-profile nra members and donors doing in moscow in 2015, and why did they lie about it? they have businesses to grow customers to care for lives to get home to they use stamps.com print discounted postage for any letter any package any time right from your computer all the amazing services of the post office only cheaper get our special tv offer a 4-week trial plus postage and a digital scale go to stamps.com/tv and never go to the post office again!
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plus a credit good for any audiobook and exclusive fitness and wellness programs. all for just $14.95 a month, and always ad free. the most inspiring minds, the most compelling stories, the best place to listen. download audible and start your free trial today. cnn learning more tonight about a trip by nra board members to russia. a former nra board president reportedly wanted to meet with russian president vladimir putin. cnn's brian todd has more. brian? >> reporter: don, we have new information, internal e-mails we've obtained, showing the nra
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may have been more involved with this trip to russia than the organization has so far admitted. this comes as the nra is trying to distance itself from that trip, while congressional investigators close in. when they landed in moscow in 2015, the alleged russian spy maria butina welcomed v.i.p.s from the national rifle association with this sign reading "welcome to russia, comrades," followed by the nra logo. the five-day trip, planned by butina, reportedly included sightseeing, a visit with a gun manufacturer, and even got a meeting with one of russia's deputy prime ministers. >> take a look at the people who were in those pictures. they were pretty powerful officials. >> reporter: up until now, the nra has refused to comment on the trip, or to say it was involved. but tonight, there are signs that nra staffers may have played a direct role. one of the russian organizers referred to it as an official nra trip. and internal e-mails obtained by cnn show an nra staffer worked with butina on planning and
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paying for some of the travel. a source familiar with the matter tells cnn the nra paid certain travel-related expenses and assisted in coordinating some aspects of the trip to members who went on their own accord. top trump supporter former sheriff david clark, who posted pictures about his trip, had his $13,000 trip and visa reimbursed, personally, by the future nra board president. and in an e-mail obtained by cnn from former nra board president david keene to maria butina months before the trip he says, "thinking about moscow visit." and keene was hoping to meet putin according to an organizer's e-mail obtained by the daily beast. keene, who was on that trip, has not responded to cnn's calls for comment. but tonight after reporting from abc, the daily beast, and cnn, the national rifle association is now going on the record, distancing itself from that 2015 trip. an nra spokesman tells cnn, "nra
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president wayne lapierre was against the trip. and convinced the nra's president not to go." but democratic senator ron wyden who's investigating the trip, says that doesn't wash with him. >> it's just not credible to say that this was not an official trip. if you just look at the pictures which have come out, it's got official trip written all over it. >> reporter: the house and senate intelligence committees are investigating, because of concerns that russia may have been using the nra to support trump. >> we heard credible allegations that the russians may have been funneling money through the nra. so yes, we wanted to pursue this. >> reporter: robert mueller's team has also been asking recently about the trump campaign's ties to the nra during the campaign. a witness tells cnn they asked about how trump wound up addressing the group in 2015. >> i love the second amendment. >> reporter: and getting its endorsement in 2016. >> to get the endorsement, believe me, is a fantastic honor. >> reporter: maria butina, charged with being an unregistered foreign agent,
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suggested the trip was a key success in her campaign to get to know members of the nra, so she could infiltrate republican circles and influence u.s. relations with russia. her efforts once got her into an event with donald trump and a chance to ask a question. >> i'm visiting from russia. >> ah. >> so, my question -- >> reporter: tonight, the nra is saying its board members, who are not nra staffers, went on the trip independently on their own. now, the nra spent upwards of $30 million to help donald trump win in 2016, according to the center for responsive politics, but the nra tells senators that they received no significant money from russians and they don't use foreign funds for election purposes. we also have to say, law enforcement has not accused the nra of any wrongdoing. don? >> brian todd, thank you. and thank you for watching. our coverage continues. stuffy? l that's because your home is filled with soft surfaces that trap odors and release them back into the room.
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i set the stage for doing what i'm going to do. >> i've set the stage. with negotiations on border security, he hints that he will declare a national emergency. those suspicions that donald trump jr. called his dad after the trump tower meeting were wrong, the blocked call was not his father. one more brutal day of cold before a weekend warm-up relatively speaking. >>

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